British support for staying in EU rises to 55 percent: Pew poll

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 03, 2015 3:47 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - British support for staying in the European Union has risen to 55 percent, up 9 percentage points from two years ago, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Prime Minister David Cameron, re-elected on May 7, has pledged to reshape Britain's ties with the EU before holding an in-out referendum on membership by the end of 2017, but he could hold it earlier.

British support for staying inside the EU rose to 55 percent from 50 percent a year ago and 46 percent in 2013, Pew said. The poll showed 36 percent of Britons wanted to leave.

In the 2013 survey, the British public was split equally with the 46 percent wanting to stay in and 46 percent wanting to leave.

Support for the EU in Britain was strongest among 18-29 year-olds: 69 percent of them wanted to stay in while 25 percent wanted to leave. British people over 50 years old were the most skeptical age group about membership.

The risk of Britain leaving the EU has spooked some investors, company bosses and Britain's military allies. Cameron is due to set out his reform proposals in more detail at a meeting with EU leaders on June 25-26.

Despite the rise in support for membership, British people are more skeptical about the bloc than five other major EU members surveyed - Poland, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.

The poll showed 51 percent of Britons viewed the EU favorably, compared to 55 percent of French people and 58 percent of Germans. The Polish were most fond of the bloc, with 72 percent viewing it favorably.

Pew said the poll of 6,028 people in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain was conducted between April 7-May 13.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)